Kirby, the Shih Tzu, on the Current Situation
By David Hartley Mark
Scene: Dave is watching the news on TV, which is full of Charlottesville, Spain, the president, racism, and pundits. Kirby, having had a haircut late the day before, is recovering from the emotional experience of losing his hair, and taking a nap. He arouses himself, and speaks:
Kirby: Dave, can I ask you a question?
Dave: Sure, Kirb. Yes, you look very handsome in your new haircut.
Kirby: Thank you—I know that I do—but that’s not it.
Dave: Something else?
Kirby: Yes. Now, you know that we Shih Tzus are not working dogs. We are companion dogs. This gives me lots of time to chase you around, and, more frequently, Mommy. I am required by Shih Tzu Law to be with you constantly, unless you and I are alone in the house, in which case I mourn Mommy’s absence and refuse to believe that she will return. Still, you know that I spend a lot of time by the TV, where my favorite bed is located—
Dave: What is your question?
K: Well, briefly, what is with you people? In Charlottesville, one group of people goes marching and saying that they hate other people. The other group gets up and defends the American Way of Life, whatever that is.
D: Yes, that is a fairly good summary of the present situation.
K: That’s not the point. I’m saying that Shih Tzus don’t act this way. No dog ever acts this way. You spend a lot of time telling me how you belong to a superior species—
D: I do?
K: –and use that as an excuse not to give me a yummy or a little bit of what food you’re having, even when I’m doing my little begging dance, which is adorable.
D: Well, it’s hard to be a human. Also, Mommy thinks you’re getting a little—chubby.
K: That’s not nice. Or true. With all due respect, it’s hard to be a Shih Tzu. Or a Maltese, or any small dog. I was discussing this with Rowdy, the Yoodle—Yorkie-Poodle—and Reese, the Pomeranian. We all agree: you humans really suck at being—well, human.
D: Tell me more about how dogs are better than people.
K: Please! Would you see a dog attack another, unless it was mentally ill or some stupid human taught them to do that? But you humans have been fighting a lot. It bothers me. It worries me. I don’t like to worry.
D: I agree with you.
K: So, I’m asking you to stop.
D: It’s not that easy.
K: Well, I can understand that. I saw those guys on TV. They don’t like Jews or African-Americans, Muslims, Hispanics, and a bunch of other people. I don’t even think they like themselves. They spend a lot of time spewing their self-hate against other dogs—I mean, people.
D: So what would you do?
K: We discussed this, Rowdy and Reese and I. Now remember, we’re little, and not very brave, except the Terrier part of Rowdy. But we came up with a plan.
D: What’s the plan?
K: We would bark. Whenever the other side started to bark at us, we would bark back. But we wouldn’t fight them. And we would depend on police dogs to take care of them.
D: Well, the police don’t always do such a great job, especially where people of color are concerned.
K: So work on getting you humans to talk to each other! I don’t mean the weird guys who hate Jews—I’m Chinese-Jewish, myself, from the Old Country of China—
D: You’re from the Little Dog Rescue in Davie. You don’t even know where China is.
K: Please don’t deprive me of my cultural heritage.
K: Anyway, you have to bark at those people, not fight them. Mostly, we dogs go up and smell each other’s faces and tushies. Then, we wag. Then, there’s the thing about those statues—
D: What would you do about that? That is a flash point between the two sides, too.
K: Well, I don’t really know much about statues. We dogs mostly pee on them.
D: Well, how do you feel about dog statues?
K: Like Mommy puts in the garden?
D: No, more like in public places. Like Greyfriars Bobby in Scotland, and Balto in New York’s Central Park. Statues commemorating a dogwho was either very faithful to his master, or the sled dog who carried the serum through to Nome.
K: Are the statues hurting anyone?
K: Are they upsetting anyone?
K: Well, isn’t it obvious? If I saw a swastika, it would certainly bother and frighten the Jewish part of me. Do I have to tell you what to do about this issue? You’re a college teacher, for Sirius’s sake.
D: I guess you’re right.
K: Well, thank you for discussing this with me.
D: Thank YOU. Oh, and one more thing, Kirby.
K: What’s that?
D: What about the president?
K: The president? Oh. Him.
K: Time for my nap. You humans shouldn’t need a Shih Tzu to tell you how to deal with the president. Isn’t this America?